When the Senate votes on possible conviction of Donald Trump on the charge of inciting insurrection, the jury will include two senators subject to investigation for supporting the mob attack on the capitol.
Seven Democratic senators on January 21 filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee, urging it to investigate the roles played by GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Josh Hawley (MO) in the effort to overturn the results of the presidential election.
"We're still looking at what their role was in all of this," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said on MSNBC last night. "We've made the referral to the Ethics Commission, the Ethics Committee, and the Ethics Committee is going to have its look." He made similar comments again today.
The letter to the six member, bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee said this:
"When Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley announced they would object to the counting of state- certified electors on January 6, 2021, they amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country.
"While Congress was debating Senator Cruz’s objection, a violent mob stormed the Capitol. These insurrectionists ransacked the building, stole property, and openly threatened Members of Congress and the Vice President. Dozens of police officers were injured; five people died, including U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
"By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely."
What else did Hawley and Cruz do to support and perhaps enable that mob? Hopefully, the Ethics Committee will find and reveal the truth. But in the meantime, those two senators should not be on the jury. Their participation will taint its ultimate verdict.
The letter requesting the investigation was signed by Democratic Sens. Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
In their letter, the senators asked the committee, chaired by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and James Lankford (R-OK) to investigate whether the actions of Cruz and Hawley constitute “improper conduct” or otherwise violate the Senate code of ethics.
The action of Hawley and Cruz in objecting to the Electoral College vote count gave life to the effort launched by Republican House members who attempted to set aside Biden's victory and, instead, award the election to Trump. Without their help, those challenges would have died without consideration by the full Congress.
Thus, their actions provided the time needed for the mob to attack, time that was sought by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, when they called rookie GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville (AL) and asked that he somehow delay the count.
Whitehouse pointed out that "when you look at the evidence today of the president's call to Sen. Tuberville asking him to spread it out, it's like a pincer move because on the one hand you're getting your mob up to the capitol to do this damage and disrupt the counting of electoral votes, but at the same time you've got to open the window of time in which those electoral votes are counted in order to allow the mob to have its effect, to actually do the damage, perhaps to catch someone, but at a minimum to disrupt. If everything had gone smoothly and without objection, we might have been done before the mob had reached the capital."
Thus, Whitehouse said, there might have been collusion "between those who tried to create the delay and that being used to open a window long enough so the mob could fight its way in and disrupt the count."
Did Hawley and Cruz actively participate in that coup attempt? Did they do more than simply pander to Trump and their ultra-right-wing supporters? The Senate Ethics Committee needs to make that determination, and until then they should not be allowed to be part of the jury sitting in judgement of Donald John Trump.